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Friday, September 19, 2014

Looking for Something to Do? Free Events Sept. 20 to 26

Here are events scheduled Saturday, Sept. 20, to Friday, Sept 26.

All events are free, so take a look -- and don't you dare say there's nothing to do in Pasadena!  

The San Gabriel Valley LGBT Pride Festival Saturday, Sept. 20, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Memorial Park will include entertainment, health fair, history and heritage village, classic car and motorcycle show and more. 

The opening reception for "The Curious Art of Origami" Saturday, Sept. 20, from 1 to 4 p.m. at Shumei Hall will celebrate art works of three of the most renowned origami artists in the country and highlight the diversity of contemporary origami. Part of the AxS Art and Science Festival, the exhibition will run through Nov. 19.

Teens and adults are invited to Worlds Beyond: An Afternoon of Science Fiction and Fantasy Saturday, Sept, 20, from 1 to 5 p.m. in the Donald R. Wright Auditorium at Central Library where authors will discuss their works.

Trails and Ways will perform bossa nova pop music Saturday, Sept. 20, from 8 to 10 p.m. in the courtyard at One Colorado.

Children are invited to join the Lego Club and get creative with the unique building blocks Monday, Sept. 22, at 4 p.m. at La Pintoresca Branch Library. The club will also get together Sept. 29 at 4 p.m.

Argus Quartet will perform innovative chamber music Wednesday, Sept. 24, from 12:10 to 12:40 p.m. for the popular Music at Noon series.

In keeping with Dust, Drought and Dreams Gone Dry, the library's exhibitions and activities commemorating the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, "Bound for Glory" (1976 PG-13) starring David Carradine and Ronny Cox will be shown Wednesday, Sept. 24, at 1 p.m. in the Donald R. Wright Auditorium at Central Library. During the Great Depression, frustrated Texas sign painter Woody Guthrie rides the rails to California and becomes a vagabond singer. 

Children are invited to discuss and have fun with "Sarah, Plain and Tall" by Patricia MacLachlan Wednesday, Sept. 24, at 4:30 p.m. at Central Library.

Admission to the Pasadena Museum of California Art is free the third Thursday of every month from 5 to 8 p.m. On Thursday, Sept. 25, enjoy the current exhibitions "An Opening of the Field: Jess, Robert Duncan and Their Circle," "Burning Down the House: Ellen Brooks, Jo Ann Callis, Eileen Cowin" and "Stas Orlovski: Chimera."

"Mary Poppins" (1964) starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke will be shown Friday, Sept. 26, at 7:30 p.m. ("or when it gets dark") in the courtyard at One Colorado. A magic nanny comes to work for a cold banker's unhappy family.

Photo credits: San Gabriel Valley Pride, Shumei Arts Council, Magda Knight, Trails and Ways, Saginaw Public Library, Argus Quartet, Panorama, School Library Church, Pasadena Museum of California Art, The Kobal Collection,

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Mystery History -- Solved!

I stumped everyone this week. See what happens when you don't see an exhibition at Pasadena Museum of History?

I shot this photo straight from the wall in the north gallery, where the exhibition Crown City Jubilee celebrated institutions in Pasadena's history. One section was about schools and included the photo above. The exhibition opened in May and closed on Sept. 14.

In this 1934 photo, Hazel Barker's sixth grade class at Ulysses S. Grant School poses with the telephone system they designed and built for the school. 

In the 1930s Grant School was designated as a school for gifted students, so it's not surprising in this city famous for science and engineering that these young smarties were given such a project.

Grant school, which no longer exists, was originally located on a portion of 18 acres on Colorado Boulevard between Hill and Sierra Bonita avenues set aside for construction of a new campus for Pasadena High School. See this 2011 Mystery History post for a little more about that.

I've had a lot going on lately and have been extraordinarily busy, so I didn't have time to fish through the Pasadena Museum of History archives for additional photos of Grant School. The good news is this leaves the door open for another Mystery History photo about Grant School someday!

Many thanks to Pasadena Museum of History.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mystery History

Where are we? And what's happening?

The first person to guess correctly will win lunch with me -- I'll buy yours and you'll buy mine.

Remember, leave your brief guess as a comment on this blog post but don't try to give the entire back story (that's my job).

I'll have the full scoop on Thursday.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Looking for Something to Do? Free Events Sept. 13 to 19

Here are events scheduled Saturday, Sept. 13, to Friday, Sept 19.

All events are free, so take a look -- and don't you dare say there's nothing to do in Pasadena!  

Fiestas Patrias Saturday, Sept. 13, from noon to 5 p.m. outdoors at Villa-Parke Community Center will celebrate the independence of 18 Latin American nations from Spanish colonial rule with a parade of flags with costumed flag bearers, live music, dance performances, children's activities, soccer tournament and more. 

Teens are invited to Anime Afternoon Saturday, Sept. 13, at 2 p.m. at Central Library. Enjoy the Anime feature "Cat's Eye," Japanese snacks and the newest manga in the library's collection.

Singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers will perform her unique brand of folk rock Saturday, Sept. 13, from 8 to 10 p.m. in the courtyard at One Colorado.  

An LA Opera community educator will take guests on a journey through Giuseppe Verdi's "La Traviata" Monday, Sept. 15, at 1 p.m. at Pasadena Senior Center (you do not have to be a member to attend). Wealthy Roberto and the courtesan Violetta trade the glitzy world of Paris for an idyllic love nest in the countryside until an unexpected visitor threatens to tear them apart.

Children don't have to be named Jack to decorate a pot and plant bean seeds Tuesday, Sept. 16, at 3 p.m. at Hill Avenue Branch Library, then take them home and watch them grow!

Perfecto De Castro will perform classical music on a 10-string guitar Wednesday, Sept. 17, from 12:10 to 12:40 p.m. for the popular Music at Noon recital series.

In keeping with Dust, Drought and Dreams Gone Dry, the library's exhibitions and activities commemorating the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, "The Grapes of Wrath" (1940) starring Henry Fonda and Jane Darwell will be shown Wednesday, Sept. 17, at 1 p.m. in the Donald R. Wright Auditorium at Central Library. A family is forced off of their land due to the Dust Bowl and experiences hope and misfortunes on the way to California. 

Pasadena Public library presents The Voice of Women in American Poetry Thursday, Sept. 18, at 7 p.m. in the Donald R. Wright Auditorium at Central Library. Distinguished contemporary poets will celebrate the lives and poetry of three 20th century figures -- Ai (in photo), Ina Coolbrith and Eileen Myles -- while discussing the three poets' influence and reading poems of their own in tribute.

Have a bard-like experience during Shakespeare in the Park(let) Friday, Sept. 19, from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Playhouse District. Read and/or hear sonnets, prep for "Kiss Me Kate" (based on "The Taming of the Shrew") and more as citizens, artists and activists call attention to the need for more open space in urban areas.

You don't have to be a member of the Pasadena Senior Center to see "Singin' in the Rain" (1952) starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor there Friday, Sept. 19, at 1 p.m.  A silent-film production company and cast make the difficult transition to talkies.

"Up" (2009, PG) with the voice talents of Ed Asner and Christopher Plummer will be shown Friday, Sept. 19, at 7:30 p.m. ("or when it gets dark") in the courtyard at One Colorado. A boy inadvertently becomes a stowaway when an elderly gentleman ties thousands of balloons to his house to see the wilds of South America.

Photo credits: Dreamstime, Anime Nation, Build a Better Photograph, Catherine Ashmore, Tara Noelle, Classical Guitar, Screen Insults, aprweb, What's It All About, Shakespeare?, Pretty Clever Films, IMDB.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Michele Zack and the Lisu Tribe

We all have various circles of friends. Some we've known all our lives, some we connected with at work, some are neighbors, others we came to know through volunteer activities.

Michele Zack -- historian, fellow blogger and published author -- is among my many friends. We knew of each other by reputation for some time and became friends after we volunteered to serve on the steering committee for LitFest Pasadena in 2012. That led to a particular circle of friends, all of whom served on that team, who call ourselves WoFo (the meaning behind the name is a state secret).

That's Michele in the recent photo above with a group of musicians in Putao, Myanmar

As I write this she's in that part of the world, working on an update of an ethnology of the Lisu hill tribe, most of whom live in remote highland areas of Southeast Asia. 

She wrote the original in the 1990s when she was living in Thailand.

She now has a publisher, University Press of Colorado, that is eager to produce her work on the Lisu tribe.

This is her new work space in Hang Dong, Thailand, where she is writing up her notes from the past two months before returning home to Altadena to complete the book:

All who know Michele are looking forward to celebrating the book debut and diving right in.

Be sure to catch updates on her blog and follow her travels on her Facebook page.

We miss you, Michele. I can't wait to get together for lunch when you return so you can tell the WoFo even more about it!

Photos courtesy of Michele Zack.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Looking for Something to Do? Free Events Sept. 6 to 12

Here are events scheduled Saturday, Sept. 6, to Friday, Sept 12.

All events are free, so take a look -- and don't you dare say there's nothing to do in Pasadena! 

Pasadena Public Library will host "Dust, Drought and Dreams Gone Dry" Saturday, Sept. 6, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Central Library in commemoration of the Dust Bowl, the disaster that wreaked havoc on the Great Plains in the 1930s. See vintage automobiles of that era; view an exhibition of photos and illustrations depicting before, during and after the Dust Bowl disaster; get a first-hand account of the Dust Bowl experience via correspondence of someone who lived it; learn about Woody Guthrie, the Dust Bowl Troubadour, and hear some of his music; and much more.

The opening reception for an exhibition titled (in part) "Is This a Painting?" is Saturday, Sept. 6, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Armory Center for the Arts. The exhibition will continue through Oct. 26.

The South Lake Business Association will sponsor a screening of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981, PG) starring Harrison Ford in his iconic role as Indiana Jones Saturday, Sept. 6, at 8 p.m. on the rooftop of the Chase Bank parking structure. Come as early as 6 p.m. for a pre-film funfest with a DJ. Food and beverages will be available for sale. Reservations are required.

Sunny War will perform blues, folk and punk Saturday, Sept. 6, from 8 to 10 p.m. in the courtyard at One Colorado.   

Children are invited to read to gentle, well-trained dogs provided by the Pasadena Humane Society during Barks and Books Tuesday, Sept. 9, at 3:30 p.m. at Hastings Branch Library.

Russian pianist Sabine Pothier will perform jazz Wednesday, Sept. 10, from 12:10 to 12:40 p.m. for the popular Music at Noon recital series.

Part II of "The Dust Bowl" (2012, PG), a documentary film by Ken Burns, will be shown Wednesday, Sept. 10, at 1 p.m. in the Donald R. Wright Auditorium at Central Library.
The next supply of garden-ready mulch from Pasadena Public Works Department street tree trimmings will be available Friday, Sept. 12, at the southeast corner of the parking lot at Victory Park. Bring your own shovels, containers and gloves anytime between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. The mulch supply is replenished once a month through October and is available to Pasadena residents only.

"The Grand Budapest Hotel" (2014, R) starring Ralph Fiennes and Tilda Swinton will be shown Friday, Sept. 12, at 1 p.m. in the Scott Pavilion at Pasadena Senior Center. You do not have to be a member to attend. A legendary hotel concierge has grand adventures with the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend.

On Friday, Sept. 12, at 7 p.m. in the Vosloh Forum at PCC (building UU on this map), learn how NASA studies soil moisture from space using a single satellite to address climate modeling as well as drought, flood and landslide predictions.

"The Muppets" (2011, PG) starring Amy Adams and Jason Segal will be shown Friday, Sept. 12, at 7:30 p.m. ("or when it gets dark") in the courtyard at One Colorado. With the help of some of their fans, The Muppets reunite to save their old theater from a greedy oil tycoon.

Photo credits: Zap2it, Gone Movie, Sunny War, Orange Coiunty Register, Analia Saban, Sabine Pothier, Garden Splendor, Athena Cinema, JPL, IMDB,

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Mystery History -- Solved!

John wins with his 1:02 p.m. Tuesday guess "It is the Royal Laundry Building on South Raymond Ave at Bellevue. This was the former site of the Pasadena Grand Opera House. Could this be a delivery service for the laundry?"

In the 1930 photo above, a delivery man poses with an American Austin coupe in front of the Royal Laundry complex at 443 S. Raymond Ave. at Bellevue Street.

Here is the original photo before I retouched it (badly) and cropped it:

Established in 1910 just down the street at 461 S. Raymond Ave., Royal Laundry catered mostly to luxury hotels and wealthy residents. By the mid-1920s, laundry services throughout the country were using the advanced technology of industrial machines for washing, drying and ironing, and Royal Laundry was no exception. 

The business moved to this new complex in 1927 designed by architect Gordon B. Kaufmann, who also designed Hoover Dam and the Athenaeum at Caltech. For this new complex, the fa├žade and other exterior architectural elements were intended to represent the level of service, efficiency and cleanliness Royal Laundry provided. 

Here is a photo I took of the entrance yesterday:

Not long after, a drive-up service was added to the south of the main building to adapt to the increasing use of automobiles. Slightly raised lettering on the arrow that got painted over reads Drive-In & Save. This building in the complex now houses medical offices. When I was there yesterday, three or four Dial-A-Ride vans dropped off and picked up some elderly patients.

Royal Laundry closed in the 1980s and the complex sat empty for several years. To prevent demolition or major exterior changes, the main plant, drive-up building and annex building were listed in the National Register of Historic Places. 

During the years it was closed it was certainly not unused. Filming for several movies and TV shows took place there and the Backstreet Boys filmed their "As Long As You Love Me" music video there. 

Beginning in 2002 the building underwent a three-year historic preservation project and interior renovation after it was purchased, and then it was leased for the Disney Store worldwide headquarters.

Here is the exterior of the entire complex, looking south to north and then north to south:

The historic exterior of the complex now belies the modern, colorful, modular interior designed for Disney Store headquarters by Clive Wilkinson Architects to create a lively and inspiring workplace environment:

The historic ceiling is intact.

Oskar Mendez, a vinylmation character artist, is one of the 230 employees there. He's an Art Center College of Design grad.

See an interesting interview with Oskar, with even more photos, on the Disney Store blog.

This fun topiary, which cannot be seen from the street, frames part of a walkway between one of the buildings and the parking structure..

I wanted to capture some of the complex's exterior architectural elements yesterday:


The complex was sold two weeks ago. Will Disney Store worldwide headquarters stay? I certainly hope so. They signed a 13-year, $23 million lease agreement when they moved into the complex. Will that hold with the new owner? I'm not an attorney or a commercial real estate professional. We'll see.

P.S. -- John is correct that Royal Laundry was built on the site of the former Pasadena Grand Opera House. That's another story!  

I shot all the exterior color photos of the Royal Laundry complex with the exception of the topiary and the still of the music video. Additional photo credits: Huntington Library, Los Angeles Public Library, Backstreet Boys, Clive Wilkinson Architects, Colorcoat. Also, many thanks to my friend and former employee Gregg Guenthard, who is with the Petersen Automotive Museum, for identifying the vehicle.